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Why is Bruce Smith so mad at Tony Boselli?

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Bruce Smith decided to season his Tuesday morning with a little bit of salt.

(It was actually a lot of salt. But that’s okay.)

So, here’s the story of why a Hall of Fame player is mad at a Hall of Fame nominee (who’s now in Canton) for using his performance against him in the playoffs as a way to prove how good he is. Buckle up.

It all started when Tony Boselli was a finalist (for what seemed like the 100th year in a row) for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Jaguars legend had a lot of big moments in career, but one that stood out was in his very first playoff game back in 1996.

The upstart Jaguars, winners of their last five regular season and beneficiary of a rare Morten Andersen miss, had snuck into the playoffs. (“It’s no good! It’s no good! And the Jaguars are going to the playoffs!”) As a Wild Card team, they were going to be spending the postseason on the road and their first stop?


In hindsight, this was the beginning of the end for the Bills. But at the time, the Bills were a very, very good team. They’d been to four straight Super Bowls just a few seasons prior. They were on their eighth playoff trip in nine seasons. They had Jim Kelly. And Thurman Thomas. And Andre Reed.

And Bruce Smith.

Here’s where the fun begins. Bruce Smith was NFL Defensive Player of the Year this season. Naturally, one of the main storylines leading up to the game was how a second-year Tony Boselli was going to do against a guy like Bruce Smith whose ticket to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was all but punched.

In short, Tony Boselli gave Bruce Smith that work.

Bruce Smith finished the game with three tackles, two pressures, and zero sacks. The same Bruce Smith who was in his 12th year and had recorded double-digit sacks in 10 of them was blanked. The same Bruce Smith who was an 8-time All-Pro and been voted to 9 Pro Bowls up to this point.

Heaven forbid that Tony Boselli, regardless of how old he was at the time, would use that game as his measuring stick for why he belonged in the Hall of Fame.

And it wasn’t just good technique or luck or scheme that made Tony Boselli’s signature performance of his young career so memorable. I mean, just look at his in-game performance.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Tony Boselli looked like he was playing against his younger brother in the backyard on some of these plays.

Sorry, Bruce Smith. You’re a Hall of Fame player. And you got beat in a big game against another Hall of Fame player. It happens. And it’s okay to admit it.

Go Jaguars.